The Stopped Clock
Newcastles at the Stopped Clock, Kelly Square,
or Stella Artois if the Newcastle's out:
December's cold snap and midsummer's drought
are greeted the same way: with beer and beer.
The winner of the gold for Best Barkeep:
unquestionably, Elizabeth from Winchester
who'll drive to work through traffic, curse and beep
or say Hail Marys to make the cars move faster.
Conversation rarely if ever lags
with this adept mixologist, young and slender,
skilled at concocting stronger drinks, if wanted.
In walks Dylan with his packed book-bags
as the Stopped Clock's jukebox plays “Love Me Tender”
or “More than a Feeling,” life's sharp edges blunted.
More than a feeling. Life's sharp edges blunted,
senses dulled by music and ale. Not bad.
Elizabeth has most accurately counted
the number of beers this rumpled oaf has had.
ESPN's on the boob tube, mute.
Elton sings “Rocket Man,” Bowie sings “Let's Dance.”
Three pints (“another?”) bring some semblance
of peace in the din, of happiness absolute.
“What are your weekend plans?” she asks. “Don't know,”
is my oft-used and sadly true reply.
Chinese food Saturday, the next day church?
I shall be telling this tale with a sigh
someday in a rocking chair on my front porch:
“The Stopped Clock was my only place to go.”
The Stopped Clock was my only place to go
after Confession at the shrine (St Pete’s),
during reading of Catullus or Keats,
before a shrink-session with youthful Joe.
Its basement was a den of high repute
where politicians and ironworkers gathered
and anyone else who felt bothered
by weather, circumstance, or harsh dispute.
And you could get a decent lunch down there
for something like ten bucks (plus drinks, plus tax):
chicken or fish, steak skewers, burgers and fries --
Elizabeth would listen to your lies
and smile or laugh, and you'd keep coming back
for Newcastles at the Stopped Clock, Kelly Square.